For immediate release | October 23, 2012

Explore a post-literate future with 'Beyond Literacy'

CHICAGO; TORONTO — The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Ontario Library Association (OLA) announce the online publication of “Beyond Literacy” by Michael Ridley of the University of Guelph. “Beyond Literacy” is an interactive, serialized online thought experiment exploring the demise of literacy and the rise of other capabilities, capacities or tools that will effectively and advantageously displace reading and writing. The work is freely available for reading, comment and discussion on the publication website.

While the prospect of the end of literacy is disturbing for many, it will not be a decline into a new Dark Age but rather the beginning of an era of advanced human capability and connection. The post-literate world is to be welcomed not feared. Of course, getting there could be a bit disruptive. In “Beyond Literacy,” Ridley examines the nature of literacy and its shortcomings, explores the possibilities for a post-literate capacity and imagines the transition to this very different future.

“Humans have made changes before; when we moved from a society based on the oral tradition and stories handed down in families to a society based on the written word and accessed by an increasing circle of people beyond the village,” said Gale Cengage Learning Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Markets and noted library visionary Stephen Abram. “Michael Ridley explores the concept of the post-literate society from the perspective of a futurist who sees and imagines what this post-literate world might look like. This ‘book’ will expand your mind and your thinking.”

Issued as a digital open access publication, “Beyond Literacy” is designed to foster dialogue and debate, either as part of the book’s Web presence or in other Internet venues. The work is being created in conjunction with a graduate course at the University of Toronto iSchool. The course, INF2301H – Special Topics in Information: Beyond Literacy, will place students in the roles of learner, researcher, curator and contributor in a network-based scholarly dialogue, as they create additional content for “Beyond Literacy” and engage in dialogue about the concepts with each other and the broader community of readers.

“Beyond Literacy” is a prime example of the new forms of scholarship in academic librarianship that embrace the exploration of cutting-edge ideas, philosophies, models and pathways as we develop the twenty-first century library,” noted Coalition for Networked Information Associate Executive Director and ACRL New Publications Advisory Board Chair Joan Lippincott. “Academic librarians can support advances in knowledge creation by engaging students in developing new types of content, such as Ridley’s ‘Beyond Literacy’ thought experiment.”

Beyond Literacy” will be serialized in two online installments in late October and early November 2012.

For additional information, contact ACRL Content Strategist Kathryn Deiss at or (312) 280-2529.


ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing more than 11,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments. ACRL is on the web at, Facebook at and Twitter at @ala_acrl.

The Ontario Library Association (OLA) is a centre of excellence for the library and information sector, with more than 5,000 members who work in public, school, academic, and special libraries. OLA enables members to advocate for the right of individuals to have free and equitable access to information. Our members research, develop and participate in educational programs designed to provide exemplary library services. Signature OLA events include the annual Super Conference, and the Forest of Reading Program.


David Free

Mktg & Comm. Specialist/Editor-in-Chief

Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)

1-800-545-2433 ext.2517